By: Jeremy Morris, Associate Editor, USDR
American Humane Association’s famed Red Star™ Animal Emergency team is deploying immediately to assist with what is being called the second largest dog fighting raid in U.S. history. The abused, malnourished animals have been transported to undisclosed temporary emergency shelters where American Humane Association’s highly-trained Red Star responders will help to provide critical daily care to the rescued dogs.
After a three-year investigation initiated by the Auburn Police, 13 search warrants were executed Friday morning, Aug. 23, throughout Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Texas. Ten suspects were arrested and indicted on felony dog fighting charges. Federal and local officials also seized firearms and drugs, as well as more than $500,000 in cash from dog fighting gambling activities that took place over the course of the investigation. If convicted, defendants could face up to five years in prison, as well as fines and restitution.
“It is our duty to do all we can to support and assist these animals and we give our sincere gratitude to the Auburn Police, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Attorney’s Office who vigorously pursued this investigation and shut down this long-term cruelty,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane Association. “The collaboration amongst the numerous humane organizations is also commendable. We’re proud to be participating in this effort to help these animal victims.”
The remains of dead animals were also discovered on some properties where dogs were housed and allegedly fought. The 367 dogs that were rescued ranged in age from just a few days to 12 years. The dogs were found in the sweltering heat with only makeshift, filthy housing for shelter. Some dogs appeared to have no access to water at all. A large number of the dogs were emaciated and many exhibited wounds, scars and other conditions consistent with dog fighting.
“Our team will help provide love, care and compassion to these dogs who for so long have known nothing but brutal torture, abuse and neglect,” said Justin L. Scally, national director of Red Star Emergency Services for American Humane Association.”Animal fighting is a barbaric and cowardly form of cruelty. One that not only leads to immense animal suffering – but one that frequently also involves other crimes and violence.”
American Humane Association’s Red Star Emergency Services team is deploying at the request of the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®). Other agencies assisting the ASPCA and The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) with the operation include: Florida State Animal Response Coalition and Sumter Disaster Animal Response Team (Bushnell, Fla.); University of Florida (Gainesville); Humane Society of South Mississippi (Gulfport); International Fund for Animal Welfare (Yarmouth Port, Mass.); Asheville Humane Society (Asheville, N.C.); Charleston Humane (Charleston, S.C.); Louisiana SPCA (New Orleans); Greater Birmingham Humane Society (Birmingham, Ala.); Atlanta Humane Society (Atlanta, Ga.); PetSmart Charities (Phoenix, Ariz.); Code 3 Associates (Longmont, Colo.); and Montgomery Humane Society (Montgomery, Ala.).